Euro 2020: The best and worst of the Group Stage

The Group stages of the Euros are over and so far, we’ve all had a ball so let’s cast our glances at the most impressive and most disappointing numbers to come out of the first round as we look forward to the round of 16.

Let’s start from the top goal scorer at the Euros, the record breaker, Cristiano Ronaldo. He has now scored five goals from an xG of 4.7 which is the highest at the Euros so far. The goal scorers and expected goals charts aren’t the only ones that Ronaldo has topped, he also leads for non-penalty expected goals with 2.4npxG, just under Alvaro Morata’s total xG of 2.8 which is the second-highest total xG at the European Championship behind only Ronaldo.

Morata, unlike Ronaldo, did not do justice to his finishing and was statistically the worst finisher in the group stage (but you probably didn’t need us to tell you that). He had the worst G-xG differential of all the players so far (-1.8) and missed the most big chances (4) at the Euros including a penalty. He is followed closely by teammate Gerard Moreno who is yet to score and has missed 1.7 expected goals and 3 big chances. The waywardness of the duo means that Spain has the worst net xG missed of any team in the group stages (-3.3) and despite creating the most big chances (14 -tied with Netherlands-), they have also missed the most of such chances (12). If they are to go far in the competition, they must improve their finishing perhaps to the levels of Belgium. 

Belgium and Croatia have outperformed their xG by the largest margins, with both teams scoring 1.9 goals more than expected in the Euros Group stages. Belgium are led in this regard by Romelu Lukaku whose 3 goals have come from just 1.4xG. He sits third for xG exceeded at the Euros only behind Emil Forsberg and Ivan Perisic who have scored 1.8 and 1.7 more goals than expected respectively. 

Because one of Forsberg’s goals was a penalty, Croatia’s Perisic takes the honour for improving his expected goals the most from open play. Croatia have needed that improved quality of finishing as they have the lowest xG of any side that made it through to the round of 16. Their 2.1 total xG is lower than Scotland, Poland, North Macedonia, Russia, and even Turkey who are all out of the competition. 

The goal scored with the lowest xG was as anticipated Patrik Schick’s second goal against Scotland which had an xG of 0.01. That wasn’t the only worldie that Scotland conceded. They eventually conceded 5 goals from an xG of 2.5. The -2.5 difference was the worst of the 24 teams in the group stages. 

The only other country apart from Croatia to qualify for the Euros Round of 16 who did not manage up to 3 expected goals was England who struggled creatively throughout the group stages. 

Although they have created 8 big chances, the chances have come too few and too far between. They have played the 19th most key passes and only performed 38 shot creating actions over the three group stage matches making them the team with the 19th most SCAs so far. Only the Czech Republic qualified while making fewer shot creating actions than England did. In total, only Croatia qualified while accumulating a lower xG than England’s 2.7. However, while Croatia outperformed their xG and scored 4 goals, England underperformed theirs and scored only 2 goals (the lowest of any team that qualified for the Round of 16). The biggest culprit for England? Captain Harry Kane, who is still yet to score despite accumulating an xG of 0.9. 

It isn’t all doom and gloom for England though, on the defensive side of things they have been impressively solid. They and Italy are the only countries yet to concede a goal and have both been excellent at shielding their goalkeepers. England’s Post Shot xG conceded stands at 0.2 from the three games played which is the best at the Euros so far. Italy and Spain are the only other teams yet to concede up to 1 PSxG in the Group stage with Italy conceding 0.8 PSxG and Spain conceding 0.9. 

On the other end of that scale, North Macedonia conceded the most PSxG (9.8) but thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski, they only conceded 8 goals which was still the joint-most in the Euros with Turkey. Turkey conceded the most goals and scored the fewest while losing all group games making them officially the worst team with no points and the worst goal difference. 

Switzerland’s Stephen Zuber and Denmark Pierre-Emille Hojbjerg sit atop the assist leaders’ chart with 3 assists each but it is Netherland’s Donyell Malen and Gareth Bale who deserve more creative plaudits. Despite playing only 92 minutes across two games, Malen has accumulated the highest expected assists (xA) at the Euros with 1.9 xA after creating 4 big chances. A tally only bettered by Gareth Bale’s tally of 5 big chances. Both players have recorded 2 assists each along with Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne who has accumulated the second-highest xA after playing Belgium’s last two group games. He has also played the most key passes at Euro 2020, level with Hojbjerg at 9.

Spain might have struggled to convert chances but they have had no issues progressing the ball upfield as has been a staple of Spanish football. They top the table for both progressive passes and progressive carries and are the only team with as many as four players who are ranked in the top 10 for progressive passes. Jordi Alba, Koke, Marcos Llorente, and Pedri have all been stellar with progressive passes. The Barcelona starlet has also been at the forefront of getting the ball into Spain’s final third. Pedri has completed the most final third entries with the ball (18) and has played the second-most passes into the same area (41). Only Germany’s Toni Kroos (59) has made more. 

The Real Madrid midfielder has been at his imperious best at the Euros making the most passes (287), most progressive passes (45), most passes into the final third (59), and the second most progressive carries (38) in the Euros Group stage. 

There have been many heroes of the opening round and we can’t wait for more heroes in the “business end” of the European Championships.

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